Uber sues Indian rival Ola over 'bogus' bookings


New Delhi (AFP)

Uber on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against Indian rival Ola, accusing it of making nearly half a million bogus bookings with Uber drivers in the past six months, as competition intensifies in the cut-throat taxi-hailing market.

The San Francisco-based company is seeking 490 million rupees ($7.3 million) in damages from Ola for unfair practices, a lawyer representing Uber said.

It alleges Ola employees and agents booked and then cancelled rides with Uber across several Indian cities.

"They used thousands of fake accounts to book 450,000 rides and then cancel them," the lawyer representing Uber told AFP, on condition of anonymity.

For each cancellation Uber had to pay compensation to the driver, resulting in huge losses, the lawyer said, adding that the Delhi High Court has asked Ola to refrain from making false bookings.

Ola denies any wrongdoing, and in a statement called the allegations by Uber "frivolous and false".

It has been asked to respond to the allegations at the next hearing in September.

Ola, which is backed by Japan's SoftBank, is tussling with Uber for a greater share of India's growing taxi app market which is expected to be worth $7 billion by 2020.

Ride-hailing apps have risen rapidly to become a booming industry in India's congested cities, but face stiff resistance from traditional taxis and bans over safety concerns.

Uber, the world's most valuable start-up, set up its India operation in September 2013 and now does business in more than 25 cities in the country.

In 2014 Lyft, a US-based ride-hailing company, accused Uber of using similar tactics to hurt its business, saying it booked and cancelled more than 5,000 bogus cab rides.